Sucker Punch (殺客同萌)
By Jeff Lin, The China PostOn the heels of his breakout hits “300” (300壯士：斯巴達的逆襲) and “Watchmen,” (守護者) director Zack Snyder's “Sucker Punch” is not just a 17-year-old boy's fantasy. Although it seems there was an unlimited budget for guns, swords, sci-fi monsters and sexy outfits, the visually seductive film quickly grows into a plot about escaping one's inner demons.
March 25, 2011, 2:39 pm TWN
Director Zach Snyder has been quoted as saying that “Sucker Punch” is a film about how the mind can create an almost impenetrable barricade against the real world, and the lengths we're willing to go, sacrifices we're willing to make, to get out of a difficult situation. With this brief description of the film's context, all aspects of the movie seem to have their special unique role in building a highly interactive story.
The epic journey starts with Babydoll, played by Emily Browning, being sent to a mental institution after her mother's death. As a captive inside the institution, the 20-year-old finds solace in the prison's theater, where her dreams and vivid imagination provide an escape from her dark reality. Unrestricted by physical boundaries, she is free to go where her mind takes her, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
Although controlled and harassed by those who are supposed to care for her, Babydoll has not lost her will to be free. Determined to escape from the bonds of her abusive caregivers, she recruits four other girls in the institution to plan a breakout. The newly formed group of Babydoll, Rocket, Blondie, Amber and Sweet Pea band together to get their hands on four items that are needed to escape.
Led by Babydoll, the girls engage in numerous battles against everything from gas powered German soldiers to dragons and samurais. With an arsenal composed of swords and machine guns, the girls dispose of everything in their way.
The main distinctive marker of all Snyder films is the composition of the action scenes. In “300” and “Watchmen,” the nonstop, blood-spewing and bone-crushing fights were considered revolutionary. In “Sucker Punch,” Snyder outdoes himself again. Using Babydoll's imagination as a blank canvas, Snyder was free to create a combination of mythical and fictional scenes for the film's battlegrounds. The result is three completely different action sequences that build upon one another until the final sequence.
In between each of the surreal encounters, the plot reveals more and more characteristics of each of the girls. Although none are perfect, like a squad of scantily clad female warriors, the girls are impossible to defeat together. By the end, the audience forms a connection with each of girls.
Even though “Sucker Punch” certainly leaves out some important details like the character parallels between reality and Babydoll's fantasy, the movie is still smooth and unhindered by the omissions.
It is also important to note that even with all the special effects, the movie only had a budget of US$86 million. If Snyder had a full blockbuster budget of US$200 million, he would have been able to recruit a stronger cast.
Through his body of work Snyder has proven he is a revolutionary action director with a tremendous potential for storytelling. With Snyder signed on to make the newest version of “Superman,” we are certain he is on to a fruitful career in Hollywood. ■
► Directed by Zack Snyder / With Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac / Action / Canada, USA / 2011 / 110 min. / Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language / English with Chinese subtitles / ★★★★☆ / Now Showing /